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Karachi Calling – Urban notes from NPR

 “Does Karachi need a golf course for God sakes? … This is madness. I don’t have drinking water and I’m going to be watering the turf?”Amber Alibhai, general secretary of the public interest group Shehri, spends her days fighting with the city of Karachi about new development.

[Photo below – Junaid Bahadur Khan for NPR]

Amber Alibhai stands in her Karachi office.

Essay: Karachi Calling!

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep writes about the contradictions of Karachi. As many as half of the Pakistani city’s 15 million or so residents live in squatter homes, even as foreign firms pour money into luxury developments.
 
The Urban Frontier: About the Series

This year, according to the U.N., half the world’s population lives in cities and the proportion will only increase. Morning Edition begins an occasional examination of the world’s cities with a series of profiles from Karachi, Pakistan’s economic powerhouse.

 

Morning Edition, June 4, 2008 · Karachi, one of the world’s most crowded cities, is debating its future. And those political debates keep returning to one subject: real estate. Developers are flocking to the Pakistani city, which has been profiled this week on Morning Edition as part of a series called “The Urban Frontier” about the world’s expanding cities.

Foreign developers are drawn to Karachi for at least two reasons. The first is demand. Pakistan may be a poor country, but many of it citizens are well off and developers believe they will pay a lot of money for expensive waterfront condos.

The second factor is a ready supply of investment capital in the Persian Gulf. To Dubai developers, for example, Karachi seems like a great investment.

A video from a Dubai development company features plans for a new city beside the old, with a new harbor, new parks and a nearly 2,000-foot tower that commemorates the year of Pakistan’s independence.

When the company brought its proposal to Pakistan, there was a meeting in the capital city of Islamabad. Word leaked out to Amber Alibhai, a public interest lawyer who is general secretary of an environmentalist group called Shehri. Continue reading

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Filed under Development, Pakistan, South Asia, Urban